In recent years, the popular catchphrase ‘housing is health care’ has been threaded through both social and health services alike, and it’s starting to stick. What we have increasingly recognized is that poor health, both mental and physical, can lead to homelessness and, conversely, homelessness often leads to poor health¹. The two are inextricably linked. The cure for homelessness and its associated ills– we believe – is safe, affordable housing. Housing itself can be considered a therapeutic intervention, much like antibiotics for an infected open wound. For an individual that has endured the effects of extreme poverty – which may include a loss of income, diminished health and mental health, exposure to violence and trauma – housing offers a restoration of safety and security, and an environment in which healing can occur.
In our efforts to restore safety, security and health to those in our community experiencing homelessness, The Road Home offers a suite of housing programs to serve diverse populations including families with children, single individuals who are chronically homeless and veterans. Our teams follow best practices and evidence based methodologies. Most households are able to resolve their homelessness quickly and with little support; only a small portion of the homeless population requires long-term supports to stabilize in housing. Some of the general types of housing we manage are:
- Rapid Re-Housing – housing barrier elimination, three to five months of rental assistance and light touch case management for families that need a bit of extra help stabilizing in housing.
- Permanent Supportive Housing – unlimited period of rental assistance (30% of income is paid toward rent) and intensive housing support services, including access to mental health treatment, substance use treatment, care of chronic health conditions, etc. This housing is reserved for individuals that are the most vulnerable of the chronically homeless population.
- Veteran Housing – federal funding for move in and rental assistance with wrap around case management support for individuals with veteran status.
Once housed, our goal is to assist those we support to reintegrate back into our community. We recognize that not everyone has the means to seek much needed treatment outside the four walls of their home. To remedy this, The Road Home works with partner agencies such as 4th Street Clinic to provide medical outreach and Valley Behavioral Health to provide mental health outreach services. We also encourage households to become reintegrated with resources in their own communities after they move out of homelessness. One highly successful program we offer is the Housing Support and Stability Project (HSSP) Team, a federally funded behavioral health outreach team which includes therapists, an APRN to prescribe medications, and Peer Support Specialists. Once an individual is stabilized with the help of these services, referrals are made for community-based health, mental health and substance use treatment.
Ultimately, we treat homelessness as we would any other affliction: with the appropriate, therapeutic intervention. In our case, we happen to believe that the best intervention is housing, accompanied by the right stabilizing supports.
¹ National Healthcare for the Homeless Council. http://www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Housing-is-Health-Care.pdf